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Port Wardens, Board of

[Record group 158]
Agency Function
This Board has been superseded by a state-authorized commission.

Agency History
Created a department of City government by an ordinance of Councils of March 28, 1870, although the Wardens had been first established, as State officials, by an Act of Assembly of 1766 and, even after 1870, remained State officers in a strictly legal sense. Their functions included the examination and licensing of harbor pilots, the maintenance of all aids to navigation and the clearing of obstructions to it in the Delaware River and Bay, formulating regulations for the movement of vessels within the port, and the maintenance of the wharf line. The posts of Master Warden and the Harbor Master were always filled by appointees of the Governor; assistant wardens were named by him also until 1803, the date of the first of a series of Acts that until 1864 increased their number and made them elective by the governing bodies of communities along the Delaware. By the latter date City Councils chose sixteen assistant wardens and the Borough of Bristol in Bucks County and the City of Chester each named one. An Act of June 8, 1907, abolished the Board of Port Wardens and transferred their powers and duties to the then-established Commissioners of Navigation for the River Delaware, a State commission of five members of whom three are appointed by the Mayor and two by the Governor.

Archival Records
158.1 Digest of Laws . . . Relating to the Board of Wardens of the Port of Philadelphia (1862, 1895)

158.2 Minutes (1766-1773, 1784-1880)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000